Human Factors in Quality Control

Human Computer Systems

Advanced Technology



Use of Advanced Technology to Support Inspection Training in the
General Aviation Industry, FAA

In order for the FAA to provide the public with continuing safe, reliable air transportation, it is important to have a sound aircraft inspection and maintenance system, for both general as well as commercial aviation. This inspection/maintenance system is complex with many interrelated human and machine components. Recognizing the importance of the human, the FAA has pursued human factors research. In the maintenance arena this research has focused on the aircraft inspector and the aircraft maintenance technician (AMT). Since it is difficult to eliminate errors altogether, continuing emphasis must be placed on developing interventions to make the inspection/maintenance system more reliable and/or more error-tolerant. Training has been identified as the primary intervention strategy for improving the quality and reliability of aircraft inspection and for reducing errors. In light of this finding, this research will demonstrate how advanced technology can be used for inspection training and for reducing inspector errors within the general aviation industry. It will extend earlier work on computer-based inspection training for the commercial aviation system, applying it as an inspection training system for the general aviation industry. Specifically designed for training aircraft maintenance technicians in inspection skills, the tool will use a multi-media presentational approach with interaction opportunities between the user and the computer. It is anticipated that the use of this tool will systematizes and standardize the inspection training process in the general aviation industry.

The research will be pursued over three years with the following specific objectives: (1.) conduct task analyses of existing inspection operations at geographically dispersed GA locations, (2.) develop and organize content to support inspection training, (3) deliver a prototype training system and (4) disseminate the findings of the research to both the GA and aviation research communities.

Product Splash Screen

Intellectual Merit
The effort represents a team that will bring together a research university and GA industry partners. The P.I. has extensive expertise in aircraft inspection and maintenance processes, human/machine systems design, training and the use of advanced technology to solve interesting human-machine systems design problems as well as demonstrable results from previous FAA, NASA, NSF and DOE grants. Moreover, they have the resources of the Advanced Technology Systems Laboratory and Virtual Reality Eye Tracking Laboratory at their disposal. The industry partners contribute experienced practitioners, a diversity of inspection tasks and test beds for integrating the products. This cutting-edge approach represents the first time an effort has been made to extend tested computer based technology to inspection training in the GA environment to enhance inspector performance and standardize the inspection training process.

The benefits to the FAA and the general aviation industry are:

  • It will help reduce inspection errors and improve inspection performance, ultimately impacting the safety and reliability of aircraft inspection and maintenance operations.
  • It will standardize the inspection training process providing an industry-wide benchmark for inspection training.
  • It will alleviate problems inherent to OJT and can be combined with existing training programs to facilitate consistency in inspection training, to provide adaptive training and to support record keeping and performance monitoring.
  • The research will directly support AFS requirements and the AAR mandate of reducing general aviation accidents by conducting guidelines based human factors research by identifying and implementing intervention strategies.
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